FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

The numbers of mass destruction

Everyone remembers hearing that Iraq had large quantities of weapons of mass destruction. We also remember that though it was impossible to prove their existence that did not stop the Bush administration from deciding that Iraq had to be invaded. Today, even if the evidence is mounting against their existence, there is no longer anyone to re-open the debate, question past decisions and repair the damages caused by that war.

The political situation in Québec is disproportionate to the tragedy that played out in 2003 in the United States. Nonetheless, a similar strategy is being played out right now by our government in Québec: Numbers are thrown out without any verification, they are used to justify actions which have considerable impacts on peoples’ lives, then we hammer out these numbers time and again so that no one has the courage to dispute them, to demand that we go back and that we correct the damages incurred.

The most telling example is the recent revelation that the deficit in the pension plans is clearly less than that which had been previously announced by the government. $2.6 B instead of $3.9 B. It is all very well to demand that the numbers be updated in order to have a more accurate portrait of the situation, nothing was done. The Liberal government has rejected the idea of going ahead with its project. Today, Bill 15 (Bill 3) has been passed, the credibility of the unions has been shredded and the workers’ bargaining power weakened.

Despite this, the government will never back track, apologize or make the required corrections. Quite simply because the lie served them well and no one feels like taking up the torch again.

And not to mention Bill 10 which will supposedly relieve the problems of the health network and ensure that the quality and access to services are maintained? Do I have to remind you that this Bill was passed under closure, and faced with a multitude of criticisms and indicators proving that the government is on the wrong track?

Furthermore, the news story in the media on the Government of Alberta has just backtracked on the centralization of healthcare services is not new. In its memorandum on Bill 10, the FIQ mentioned the conclusions of Alberta in that the reform did not result in the savings hoped for and that it is the patient, in the long run, who pays the price for decisions taken too far removed from them.

However, neither strong opposition in Québec or the Alberta experience, have prevented this government from going forward, and hammering home its message. Today, a vast reform is about to take place in health care in Québec, in the name of the quality and access to care, and this, despite all the proof that it is precisely the quality and access to care which will suffer.

When we take a closer look, the condition of the health network itself is tainted by an ideology which serves well those who constantly endeavour to dismantle it to the benefit of the private sector. Indeed, in a recent economic note, the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS) very eloquently shows how, with the accounting parameters used by the Québec Finance Minister, the government manages to present such a catastrophic and unsustainable portrait of healthcare expenses. A portrait which is radically different to the data obtained from bodies such as Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Those bodies use much broader accounting parameters which are often more consistent with the recommendations issued by the Auditor General of Québec.

When we deliberately persist in taking into account the data which serves our purposes to the detriment of that which hurts our ideas, and we turn a deaf ear to the concerns shown, we then cease to defend the common good. And no good will come out of all this…